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Q&A: Comcast Spotlight's Kurt Kennedy

Kurt Kennedy has been around long enough to see the cable industry mature into one of media’s strongest sales opportunities. In his 20th year of selling advertising -- 18 years in the cable industry -- Kennedy has worked with literally thousands of clients and businesses at all different levels to help them develop successful advertising and marketing plans. His responsibilities have grown from managing one small market in the Four Corners area in Southwestern Colorado to having leadership responsibilities for multiple markets in the state. He oversees 150 employees including sales, marketing and research, technical and business operations as well as video production for Comcast Spotlight. Kennedy recently answered a series of questions posed by Local Ad Sales contributor K.C. Neel. An edited transcript follows:

Q: How many VOD channels does Comcast Colorado insert on and how long have you been offering this type of advertising to clients?

A: We have been actively selling video on demand in Colorado for over three years. At this point, we have expanded our content to nine channels including amongst others real estate, automotive, and our newest addition “The Green Channel” which allows companies of all kinds to promote their environmentally friendly initiatives.

Q: Which channel has been the most successful to date and why?

A: At this point our most successful channel has definitely been the Real Estate Channel. We have had and continue to have a lot of content from new home builders and realtors. It is the channel that generally gets the highest number of views on both a weekly and a monthly basis and it has been built entirely by our Colorado Real Estate team. Real Estate is such a visual product and VOD is an absolutely perfect fit to showcase different properties.

Q: How has the soft economy affected your sales?

A: The affects of the economy are obviously widespread. We, who work in media, are certainly affected by what is happening with our client’s businesses, positive or negative. What I will say is we have been affected less dramatically than most in Colorado. We have such a wide array of products with so many solid opportunities for our clients to strategically and effectively reach their consumers it insulates us a bit more than more traditional media. I would also have to say I believe we have the best group of media professionals in the state working for us, which will always help to weather more challenging times. They are a very well qualified, client-focused group doing a ton of things the right way.

Q: What are you doing to offset any drop off?

A: I think one of the most important things to do is stay client focused and work harder. Work harder with your existing key accounts and prospect harder for potential key accounts. Listen to a client’s needs and put together advertising opportunities that meet those needs. Sometimes, when times get tight, it is easy to overreact -- conduct fire sales, put out a lot of generic packages that are not client focused. Our history has been that those things drive a small amount of short term revenue and rarely create a long term client partner. We need to push harder to think creatively and provide positive solutions for our clients. During tough times it is even more critical to work toward building long term relationships.

Q: Have political ads begun to have any effect on your sales? Which has more potential: national or regional/local campaigns?

A: We have certainly felt the effect of political in Colorado in general and we are doing well at Comcast Spotlight. We have good potential on a variety of levels. First, Colorado is a Presidential swing state so we will get a good deal of attention from and around the candidates. Second, we have some hotly contested Senate and Congressional races. We have already been seeing money from that arena. Third, we have the potential to have several significant statewide ballot issues. Lastly, we are working and expect to see activity on a local level with state House and Senate races.

Q: Are you expecting any big bumps with the Democratic National Convention coming to Denver?

A: We are definitely seeing increased interest and activity from advertisers during the week of the convention.

Q: What was the last book you read?

A: I’m working my way through two books presently: The Perfect Storm, by Sebastian Junger, and a management and leadership book titled Celebrate Your Mistakes and 77 Other Risk-Taking, Out-of-the-Box Ideas From Our Best Companies, by John Holt, Jon Stamell and Melissa Field.